Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

And now: poorly-performing shuttlecocks

What disease haven't you heard of this year? That, by all rights, you should have?

Odd question. Like asking, "What is it that you've forgotten?" Bird flu's been in the news this year (although it's dropped below the MSM radar in recent months). There's been the occasional mention of community-acquired MRSA. But what's missing? That's been all over the media during the summer for the past few years? Not anthrax.

How about West Nile Virus?

Ohhhh, yeah. West Nile showed up a few years ago, mainly on the East Coast. Next year, it was in the Gulf states, and spread across the country by the year after. Each year was worse than the last. Everyone with a fever and a headache was worried they had West Nile. (At least in my ER, they were.)

This year—crickets.

Here's the CDC's epidemiologic map from last year. The state with the most cases, California, had 880. This year, it's Idaho (Idaho?!?) with... seven.

Now, the season isn't over yet. Cases are still being reported, the map isn't quite up to date. My state, commonwealth, Pennsylvania, just reported its first two cases, and they aren't on the map. Still, I'd be very surprised if we get anything close to the numbers of West Nile cases we got last year.

What happened? This year we had heavy rains on the East Coast, which were supposed to increase the population of mosquitoes, which vector this bug. We should have had more West Nile, not less.

I haven't even read any speculation on this. I wonder if the reservoirs in which the virus overweathers the winter, that is, birds, all either died or were infected, survived, and developed immunity? Fewer infected reservoirs means fewer infected skeeters.

If this hypothesis is right, eventually those birds will die in the natural course of things, a new generation of uninfected birds will appear, and we'll get another burst of West Nile, followed by another pause. West Nile will become just another endemic viral disease in this hemisphere, with many asymptomatic or barely symptomatic cases, and rare cases of encephalitis.

Bonus story: In other bird-related virus news, avian flu worries are rocking the market for shuttlecock goose-feathers, causing shuttlecock prices to skyrocket. Badminton players complain bitterly about poorly-performing shuttlecocks made with inferior feathers. Obviously, rapacious shuttlecock manufacturers stand to reap windfall profits from avian flu worries. It looks damned suspicious to me, that's all I'm saying.


meaning: dry, parch

焦燥 == shousou == (noun) impatience, uneasiness, irritation
乾燥== kansou == (noun that can take する to act as a verb) dry, arid, insipid, dehydrated

Left radical is 'fire' (火). The right radical is a character found only in Chinese meaning 'birds chirping in a tree', being used phonetically to express 'dry'. This character originally meant 'dry by using a fire'; now it means 'dry' in a more general sense. Henshall suggests taking the right radical as 'tree' (木) and three 'boxes', and as a mnemonic: 'Dry three wooden boxes by fire.'

Info from Taka Kanji Database
List of compounds including this character from Risu Dictionary

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